Photo by Jake Boudrot Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church in Arichat is currently receiving a new look.

ARICHAT: One of Canada’s oldest wooden churches is getting a new look.

Historic Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church in Arichat is currently being scraped and some shingles replaced in preparation for new coats of primer and paint.

Once volunteers made repairs to the furnace, duct work and ventilation in the cathedral last year, a building committee was formed (including members of the “Friends of Notre Dame”) to oversee work on the structure. After a series of meetings, the group decided the church needed a new paint job.

Volunteer Odillon Boudreau explained this is a large undertaking, given the cost, age and size of the church, as well as the fact it was recently painted and the community was canvassed for funding at that time.

Despite those misgivings, the committee estimated the total cost of the project and requested quotes from private contractors. The committee then awarded the tender to AML Paints.

“We had three that were interested, they’re bigger companies,” Boudreau noted. “No local contractors would take the job, no one offered.”

Contributed photo
Crews with AML Paints have been scrapping and priming the exterior of Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church in Arichat before it is painted.

Before officially awarding the contract, the building committee spent $3,000 to get the advice of architectural engineers and paint experts, Boudreau noted, adding that they also spoke with representatives of Kent Building Supplies and Heritage Nova Scotia.

“Everyone recommended AML Paints,” Boudreau said. “They said they were the best qualified, had the most experience and probably could do the better job.”

Aside from expertise, AML Paints also told the committee they could start the project immediately.

“Number two is he was coming in early,” Boudreau stated. “[Other bidders] could only be in late September so the job could’ve gone on into next year or longer. We were looking at a nightmarish scenario for the same money.”

In addition to planning repairs to the church’s steeples, Boudreau said supporters are also working with the office of Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner to have the property granted federal heritage status.

Although the price tag for the painting is around $80,000 and it will take time to complete, Boudreau added that the church – which was built in 1837 and is very significant in Acadian history – is well worth the time, money and effort.

“We are a dwindling parish, however, we’re investing,” he noted. “We are investing in Richmond County because this is a major tourist attraction.

“We have a gem here. If we don’t save this, we don’t save our heritage, our culture and our history.”

Those wishing to donate are asked to make their contribution to the Building Fund so those funds can be accessed immediately and donors can receive tax receipts. To raise money for the church, volunteers are organizing ticket sales, dances and other fundraisers in the coming weeks and months.